A very liberal swinging '70s adaptation of tragic French hedonist Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel of the same name, BEL AMI fits beautifully into director Mac Ahlberg's series of similar raunchy revisions of classic world literature including AROUND THE WORLD WITH FANNY HILL, NANA, JUSTINE & JULIETTE and MOLLY. It's a happy go lucky farce built around the talents of American abroad Harry Reems. Seeking refuge from the seemingly never-ending legal repercussions of his taking part in Gerard Damiano's landmark DEEP THROAT, Reems was nearing the end of a short-lived Swedish cycle for Ahlberg and fellow ex-pat Joe Sarno, followed by a self-imposed seven year hiatus from hardcore until his carnal comeback with Gary Graver's 1982 SOCIETY AFFAIRS.
Cast as sole stud amidst a plethora of Euro femme pulchritude, Harry has a field day as priggish poet George Duroy from the lofty literary revue New Morality Magazine, inspecting an erotic exhibition, all the better to decry Western civilization's descent into pornographic squalor, hosted by his longtime antagonist and Playhouse scandal sheet editor Charles Forrestier (André Chazel from Werner Hedman's AGENT 69 JENSEN sexy spy spoofs). A literal run-in with the skin rag's Kitten of the Year Anita (gorgeous German Christa Linder) brings on an impromptu case of priapism which sends him into a tail spin of serial seduction whilst simultaneously propelling him to the upper echelon as a profoundly probing investigative journalist at the rival publication.
Nearly non-stop sex ensues, an impressively indefatigable Reems tirelessly trawling through some of the choicest cheesecake Eurotica has to offer with such infectious cheer that this never even risks becoming boring. A prime example of this movie's rambunctious brand of cheekiness is provided by the elaborate sequence of shamefully neglected conductor's spouse and former nude model eager to pick up her ancient trade Stephanie Von Rausch, portrayed with abundant abandon by delectable Danish adult actress Lisbeth Olsen, star of Paul Gerber's popular KEYHOLE. As her husband feverishly swings his baton to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture on a TV set in the corner of the room, the adulterous couple's climaxes are timed to precision to coincide with the piece's gunfire and fireworks crescendo ! Perhaps Denmark's most notorious double act, husband and wife Bent and Anne Bie Warburg, both appear with only the Missus getting her jollies, albeit simulated and body doubled (an old-fashioned gal at heart, she apparently only put out for her man), as Harry's Girl Friday Clothilde, coming to his rescue when he's most hard up, proving that a friend in need is a friend indeed ! The elegant French actress Jacqueline Laurent who portrays lonely publisher's wife Rebecca Walter was memorably cast as Lina Romay's unfortunate mom in Jess Franco's off the wall LORNA THE EXORCIST. As her carnally curious daughter Suzanne, the magnificent Marie Forsa's something of an odd girl out. Discovered by Sarno for his 1973 vampires 'n' velvet opus THE DEVIL'S PLAYTHING, then just barely aged 18 (although she reportedly carried business cards at all times erroneously stating she was a full two years younger than that !), this ultimate blonde and blue-eyed Swedish siren made quite a splash for both her mentors. While no visual proof has surfaced, both Reems and Eric Edwards (her leading man on Sarno's beautiful Butterflies) have gone on record to confirm she definitely did have "real sex" with them while cameras were rolling but insisted on a clause in her contract that none of the "offending" footage could be used so as not to obstruct any envisaged mainstream career which sadly failed to materialize.
Retaining at least the skeleton of the original narrative structure as well as nearly all character names, Ahlberg has fashioned one of his most enjoyable erotic efforts, frequently funny and surprisingly fast-paced for such a hefty running time. It's a measure of the cultural as well as sexual freedom within Scandinavian society at the time that their movie industry's respected professionals might proudly produce pornography without risking any sort of backlash whatsoever. A noted cameraman for Swedish TV and heritage cinema, Ahlberg put his "dirty decade" - which kicked off with 1965's racy blockbuster I, A WOMAN - behind him by crossing the pond to return to his erstwhile occupation as a sophisticated and sought after DoP on ventures like Stuart Gordon's early burst of creepy creativity with RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND and DOLLS. Sole downside may be Olivier Toussaint's overused theme tune, popping up in an endless number of orchestral variations yet still wearing out its welcome in record time, apparently pilfered from one of the syrupy scores he penned with his composing com-padre Paul de Senneville.
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